Visualize a Best Buy

In today's market, competition drives price, and the less competition for a particular property, the more likely you will be able to make an offer that is accepted. However, you need to understand the reasons why there is less activity on a particular property.

Less competition for a property is usually caused by some of the following factors:

  • Outdated kitchens or bathrooms
  • Outdated décor
  • Overly-personalized décor
  • Too much owner clutter
  • Worn, dated flooring
  • Unusual floor plans
  • Old windows, aluminum, or single pane
  • Unattractive "curb appeal"
  • Worn or dirty, inside or out
  • Dark inside
  • Awkward interior spaces

So if you can visualize what 'could be' you can still have an edge in this still crazy and competitive market place. In fact, if you can't visualize, have your Realtor® help you find an architect or designer who can. Start by being sure that the home is structurally sound, and/or any structural improvements are allotted for in your plans. Understand, depending on how much you do, you may need to allow for 2 or 3 months after the close of escrow, of overlap for the work to be done. If you are currently renting, this is not as much of a problem as if you are selling and buying, but since it's a seller's market, you may be able to arrange for a longer rent back than is customary. If only part of the house is being renovated, you may be able to live in other parts of the home, but if this involves major work in most of the home, don't torture yourself.

The following are some examples of how some of my clients accomplished renovations and were able to buy a home:

One bought a home that had very little appeal - it had been a rental for probably 20 years, most recently to a 'group' of young people. These clients of mine are very handy. It needed paint, windows, roof, the flooring was shot, and kitchens and baths were out of date. My clients spent $45,000.00, a lot of elbow grease, and 5 month's at Grandma and Grandpa's house. But, they ended up with the home of their dreams, that cost them less than market value even after investing the $45,000.00.

Not everyone can do that, but another couple, got into a biding war on a really cute 3 bedroom 1 bath home that ended up selling for $88,000.00 over the asking price, and still would have needed the kitchen updated.

In this case, the price was high and the work still needed to be done, with good reason they passed at a point in the bidding. The next home they looked at wasn't as "cute" to a lot of people. It was older, had 2 bedrooms, 2 baths and a larger family style kitchen that needed updating. It fit their family and their needs better than the first home. There was less competition on this property, even having to do some overbidding, they were able come out ahead enough that they could update the kitchen. They did their homework, got expert advise and help, overlapped their move by two weeks and were able to do the kitchen after moving in.

Another client spent less $20,000 on a "Home Depot" designer kitchen that was wonderfully attractive, new and suited their family perfectly.

In another situation, the Sellers had indoor pets, had installed dark blue carpeting and white vinyl kitchen flooring. It smelled like animals and the space felt dark and broken up. They got advice, bids on the jobs, and planned well. They were able to transform the home prior to moving in by delaying their move for 2 weeks. They had the property painted, added crown molding, base boards and had new hardwood flooring installed throughout the main living areas and kitchen, and installed lighter carpeting in the bedrooms.

Don't let the thought of all of this overwhelm you. You don't have to do it all yourself. You do have to plan well and schedule. You can get estimate, costs and actual bids and schedule the contractors prior to closing escrow. That way you are ready to hit it the minute you get access to the property. If you are handy, that’s great. If you aren't ask for help. Most Realtors® know a number of trades-people and can assist in reaching contractors or handyman who can give you ideas, plans and estimates

Do be cautious, not every problem can be corrected. If something about the home can't be reasonably changed, or it is economically impractical. This is known as "functional obsolescence". An example of functional obsolescence is; if you have to walk through one bedroom to get to another and there is no way to create another entry to the rear room by adding a door elsewhere. If you need to sell a property in a different kind of market place, it will be far more difficult to sell, take more time and give you less of a return on your investment, than a home without functional obsolescence.

Know what really works for you and your family. These days when properties are frequently overbid in increments of $20,000.00, Think of what that money can do on a property that is not quite as "cute" Let other peoples clutter, worn, dated properties be your edge in making the move you want. Visualize your way to an opportunity even in this crazy real estate market.